Shortly after the iPad was released, I started wondering
about the future of Apple's laptop line. Specifically, I was
wondering if the MacBook Air would be discontinued
in an effort to
consolidate Apple's overall mobile lineup
After the laptop updates in April, it seemed more likely to me that
the Air, while technologically sophisticated, was becoming the
odd-man-out. More so, given that consumers have the option to purchase
a "traditional" mobile computing device such as the MacBook or the more
"on-the-go" iPhone or iPad for under $1000
Now comes a rumor that Apple's media event this week
will include an
updated MacBook Air
. This rumored update includes a 11.6 inch screen and use of the same
solid state storage in the iPad to help make the Air more price competitive. One
rumor that I don't believe has been linked directly to the Air, but
has been out there for a few months is that Apple is working on bring
touchscreens to the Mac
. A MacBook Air
with solid state storage, multitouch abilities and long
battery life becomes an interesting hybrid mobile device. Not quite a
tablet, but not quite a laptop
In other words, the Air becomes the bridge between
the iPad (and iOS
) and the
MacBook Pros (and OS X), leaving the $1000 white MacBook the odd man out.
Now Apple wouldn't make the
same mistake as Microsoft. They won't just slap a touchscreen on a
Mac and call it done. A touchscreen, more over a mutlitouch screen,
changes the user experience and the operating system will need to
adjust accordingly. Yes, OS X already has multitouch features, but those
features are more or less limited to gestures assigned as shortcuts to
a specific action, similar to keyboard shortcuts.
OS X is still a mouse driven graphical interface. This of course brings us
to the obvious part of the upcoming "Back to the Mac" media event
; Apple will be making public their vision for the next version of OS X
What will they announce? More multitouch support would seem to be a strong possibility
. But in what form? Moving OS X away from the mouse all together? Or maybe simply adding in compatibility for iOS (or just iOS apps) to run as an instance in OS X?
All of this leaves me in a quandary. I know I need a new personal computer
that machine will most likely will be a Mac Pro. But having a personal
mobile device with a larger screen size than my iPhone would be nice. Should that device be a second generation iPad, which will come
sometime early next year, or a revamped MacBook Air?
The Mac Pro can be the heavy lifting workstation (software development environment, virtual machine host) and the iPad/Air a thin client for everything else (email, web sufring, news reader). It's trivial to setup a Mac for remote access. So the Pro can also be
accessed "remotely" (from on the road or on the couch) when desired.
Of course if I'm thinking about a Mac Pro, where part of my time using it is remotely, a simple question might be, why sink the money on a Mac Pro and large desktop monitor
when I could move to an Xserve and set it up with decent bandwidth at the data center next to my web server? Sure I would still need a local machine to sync my
iPhone (and possbile iPad) with, as well as serve media on the home network. But
my Mac Mini
already does that quite well, and it's a five year old
. If and when Apple drops PowerPC support for iTunes I
could easily swap it out with a new (or used) Intel based Mini.
Given the multiple purposes I use a computer for, my next computing setup isn't exactly obvious to me at the moment. Then again, given the current transition and
diversification of personal computing devices as a whole, it seems that any solution I choose will incorporate a combination of different devices. The question seems to be, which combination is best suited to my various uses for the next few years?